India has underlined that restoration of normal ties with China is contingent on restoring peace along their borders during a visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New Delhi, while China said the two countries should work together to promote peace and stability in the region and the world.
After three hours of discussions on Friday, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told reporters that he had conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that “the frictions and tensions that arise from China’s deployment since April 2020 cannot be reconciled with a normal relationship between two neighbors.”
Wang’s visit to India is the first high-profile stop by a senior Chinese official to New Delhi since a two-year-old border standoff led to a sharp downturn in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors. It is being seen as an effort to put relations back on track.
The Chinese foreign minister arrived in the Indian capital following a surprise trip to Afghanistan in a visit that was not officially announced in advance by either Beijing or New Delhi.
Jaishankar said discussions had focused on the need to expedite the process of disengaging the tens of thousands of troops deployed along their Himalayan borders.
“Surely the presence of a large number of troops in contravention of agreements is an abnormality,” Jaishankar told reporters after the meeting. “I would describe our current situation as a work in progress, obviously a slower pace than desirable.”
In a statement released after Wang’s visit to New Delhi, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the two sides should put their differences on the border issue in an “appropriate position” in bilateral relations. It said that China does not pursue a “unipolar Asia” and respects India’s traditional role in the region.
In the last two years, Beijing has reiterated that the border standoff does not represent the entire spectrum of the relationship between the two countries, while New Delhi has kept the focus on the need to end the friction that erupted after a bloody clash two years ago killed 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.
India accuses Chinese troops of having intruded into its territory along several stretches of their Himalayan frontier known as the Line of Actual Control. Beijing denies the allegation.
Although soldiers from the two sides have withdrawn from some areas following 15 rounds of talks between military officials, they have failed to resolve their differences along key stretches that both consider strategic. India’s “effort is to sort out the issue in entirety and deal with disengagement so that it then allows us to look to de-escalation,” according to Jaishankar.
Concerns about the border standoff run high in New Delhi because China has strengthened its presence along the frontier by building roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
In their discussions on the Ukraine crisis, India’s foreign minister said the two sides had agreed on the need for an immediate cease-fire and that diplomacy and dialogue must be the priority. China and India have close ties with Russia and have rejected Western calls to condemn Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
India also said China’s policies on New Delhi should not be influenced by those of other countries with reference to remarks Wang made concerning the disputed Kashmir region earlier this week. Attending a meeting in Pakistan of the Organization of Islamic countries, which advocates self-determination for Kashmir, he had said “China shares the same hope.”
From New Delhi, Wang is due to travel to Nepal, where Beijing has been increasing its influence. Besides the border tensions, India’s mistrust of Beijing also stems from its close ties with its archrival Pakistan and China’s efforts to increase its influence in other neighboring countries, like Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.